The Baltimore Ravens entered yesterday’s game tied for fourth in the NFL with 20 takeaways on the year, averaging a little under two takeaways per game through 12 games. They got three takeaways on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, all of them through the air, and two of them robbing Pittsburgh of opportunities to get at least a field goal.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh understands how huge those plays were not just in this game, but how big they have been throughout the year. Baltimore hasn’t had quite as good of a season as it might have hoped for up to this point with some very frustrating losses, but they are still well-positioned to make a run assuming they get quarterback Lamar Jackson back healthy in time.
“You know, the turnovers in this season have been kind of the thing. You get the three interceptions after they had driven down there, speaks volumes,” Harbaugh said after the game, via the Ravens’ website (although only two of the interceptions were in field goal range).
He joked that linebacker Patrick Queen, who had one of the three interceptions, told people in the locker room that they can’t talk about his hands anymore. “Those were great interceptions by him and Roquan [Smith], and Marcus [Williams] covering the ground that he did to make that play shows you what he’s capable of. Those are game-winning plays right there for sure.”
I would imagine the winning percentage for teams who finish a game with a turnover differential of 0-3 isn’t very high, generally. The Steelers certainly didn’t help the case for not being protective of the football, though they did come close to mounting a comeback.
The offense was able to drive the field for a touchdown to cut the score to 16-14 with a little under two and a half minutes to play. If the defense were able to get just one more stop, then the Steelers would have had an opportunity with a little under two minutes to play to get into field goal range again and attempt a game-winning field goal.
Considering the fact that they did have two touchdown drives that lasted under two and a half minutes, I think it’s reasonable to assume that they could have gotten into field goal range with the time they would have had left on the other side of the two-minute warning if only somebody were able to make a tackle on running back Gus Edwards on 3rd and 3.
Because they didn’t, however, it will be those huge interceptions that are looked back upon as the difference in the game—the ‘game-winning plays’, as Harbaugh said. And unfortunately, he’s not wrong.